For NJ gaming industry, competition remains a challenge
Even as New Jersey lawmakers ponder a plan to expand casino gaming outside of Atlantic City, to either the Meadowlands, Jersey City or Newark, neighboring states are moving ahead with plans to build several new casinos, and the future of Garden State gaming remains cloudy.
"Competition is the main challenge at this point because there are still a lot of operations coming," said Roger Gros, the Publisher of Global Gaming Business magazine. "There's another casino planned for Philadelphia which is going to tap into the Atlantic City market, there are 4 casinos planned for the northern New York market, I'm just talking about from the Catskills on up, and there's going to be actual casinos in the southern New York market, in New York City, Long Island."
He said all that new competition is going to create a difficult situation.
"If you expand into North Jersey you might be successful for three or four years, but when New York opens up it'll be just a local casino that appeals just to New Jersey residents," Gros said.
He also said if casino gaming is allowed in North Jersey, the Atlantic City gaming industry will shrink to almost nothing.
"Unless there's some sort of effort to help Atlantic City move forward, it's not going to succeed," Gros said.
Gros added that in order to survive, "Atlantic City needs to be something of a destination resort, at least a regional destination resort, where there's a lot more things to do than just gamble, gambling needs to be just an amenity in Atlantic City."
He said AC needs to attract visitors "for entertainment, for sports, for food and beverage, all that kind of stuff that Atlantic City should become."
According to Gros, new casinos are planned in Connecticut, Massachusetts and outside Washington D.C.
"There's a couple of other casinos planned where we're actually looking at Virginia right now, where an Indian tribe just got recognition, which means they'll probably announce a casino within a year or so," he said.
He said the bottom line is "there's a lot of competition on the east coast in a market that's already saturated so it's going to be difficult to attract new clients because the clients you have now are really the ones that are going to be here for a long time. You really have to decide what you want your casino industry to be in the state of New Jersey, and how you want it to operate, and what amenities you want - what to put along with it."